Georgia During the Civil War – My Ancestors

There’s nothing like hearing you’re related to slave owning confederates and murderers.

Susan Dotson, my lovely grandma, has been researching family history since the 60’s. While I spoke with her, she said her story started with her own grandmother, my great-great grandma!

Susan had been challenged by some church leaders to research four generations of her family. At the time, she didn’t know much about family history work, but her grandmother had been an expert. They wrote each other letters back and forth for a few years before my great-great grandma passed away in 1967. Although the time they spent writing each other was relatively short, the fire had been lit inside of Susan. She felt something drawing her to learn more about her relatives and ancestors.

“Learning about my ancestors is what made me so passionate about the work,” said Susan.

Upon asking what her favorite story was to share, Susan had just a plethora of adventures. Her particular favorite, she isn’t even sure if it’s true!

The family have had a couple of stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Like a detective solving mysteries, Susan enjoys uncovering the truth about these stories. Unfortunately, this one cannot be disproven, so we just assume it’s true.

When he father left to fight in the Civil War, a 13-year-old girl named Sally had been given charge over her family (and no, he did not fight against the confederates). This family lived in Georgia and worked on a plantation for their living, having many slaves to help with the work as well. Sally’s father made her promise that she would take care of her mother and eight siblings.

It wasn’t much longer after this when the Sherman’s March through Georgia occurred. The soldiers demanded to take Sally’s family’s plantation as a homebase. Just as this military leader was about to barge into the home and claim it as his own, Sally blocked his path. Spreading her arms and legs in the front door of her house, Sally denied this man entrance.

“You will not come into my home!” Sally cried out, scowling down this much larger, much stronger man without fear. “My mom is sleeping with her new baby, and you will not come into my home.”

Just to give you a picture, Sally wasn’t just 13, but she was also under 5 feet tall.

You would think that the general would get upset and push her out of the way, but the exact opposite happened! He thought Sally’s bravery was the funniest thing he had ever seen, and began laughing right in front of her.

Sally’s bravery amused this man so much, the general and his troops packed up and left!

I would hope such fearlessness runs in the family, but I have no idea.

Advice for Beginners

Susan said that the very best thing if you are new to family history work is to start with what you know.

Start writing down your immediate family’s history. It could be small things like nicknames you had for them, how they treated you, or even their names. Even a little bit of information can be preserved and then passed down after you’re gone.

Once you’ve written everything you know, go to your parents and ask them what they knew about their families. Then go to your grandparents if they’re still around.

There are some great resources out there too. Below are a couple that my grandma suggested. It might be a good place to start!

Now, my grandma had told me a few other stories (one being about a lady who killed her abusive husband with an ax), but I’ll be saving those for the future.

What I Learned

These family stories take research and time to compile, but they can be a unifying tool. Everyone likes knowing who they are and they loved hearing fun stories like the ones above.

Even knowing a little about the past can stabilize your future a little. I honestly don’t know why that is, but I challenge you to try it out. Call up your grandma and ask her about her high school experience or ask your grandpa about your great grandpa. As you learn more about the people in your past, it’s almost as if a missing part of you becomes complete.

Ancestry.com

Find a Grave

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Finding Your Passion Within… Literally

Did you know boxing is hereditary? Honestly, I didn’t even know skills could be passed down through genetics. Here’s a short post that describes how creativity is hereditary.

I believe everyone has a burning desire to know who we are and where we came from. If I could understand even a part of my past family, then maybe I could learn more about myself in the process.

I already know I’m German, Scottish and English – I usually just describe my heritage as a bunch of white countries – but I don’t know much about the people behind that heritage. It took hundreds of years and hundreds of lives for me to get to this very point. I had people crossing oceans just so I could someday sit in front of a computer screen and write this message. Okay, maybe they didn’t know I’d be doing this exactly…

Family history is this week’s topic because I need to know who I am. There could very well be someone from my past that gave me a new passion. My blood could very well lead me to the answers I’m looking for.

I’ll be interviewing my grandma for family history advice. (By interviewing a family member, I might be breaching journalistic protocol, but whatever! This is the internet! :D) This wonderful lady is a family history expert. If there was anyone more passionate about family history, I would be shocked! She has dedicated years to digging up our heritage. I’m honestly so proud of her and the work she has accomplished.

Tune in Friday to hear of how she originally got started and where you can start yourself.

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Doing 50 Squats Kills – My Boxing Experience

What I Learned

Boxing takes a crazy amount of endurance and patience.

When I got tired, I was still expected to keep moving. Tyler was super helpful, but I had no idea what I was doing, so he corrected me constantly. It could be frustrating at times, especially since all I wanted to do was punch the bag.

I’m grateful for this experience though. I’d highly recommend at least trying boxing once. The workout made me so sore and sweaty, the people were hilarious and friendly, it was all around a very positive experience.

10/10 would do again.

My Experience

Stepping up to the plate and putting on the boxing ended up being way more fun than I originally expected.

When I first arrived to the gym, a receptionist led me to a room in the back. The room’s walls and floor were lined with blue pads which cushioned every step I took. A small group of people had arrived before me and were all putting on different colored hand wraps, greeting each other with friendly hellos. Everyone I met was nice and welcoming. If I had known boxing people were like this, I probably would have picked the sport up sooner!

All of a sudden, a loud clap split the conversations in two. Tyler, in bright red sweat pants and a beanie to keep the sweat out of his eyes, addressed the group. Before I could start putting on my own wraps and gloves, I had to stretch. Tyler suggested I focus most of my stretching on my lower back and legs. Apparently those would be the most sore the next day (spoiler: he was right).

As I stretched, I felt my stiff muscles loosened. After a long day of sitting in front of a computer, it felt nice to stretch out. I sat on the blue, plastic ground and touched my toes, the back of my legs breathing in deeply, then letting out a sigh of relief as I sat up straight again.

Although I hadn’t done any strenuous work yet, I was already sweating. If that isn’t a testament to how out of shape I am, I don’t know what is.

Before joining the rest of the group for some warm up exercises, I had a very nice man help me with the hand wraps. It was so confusing putting them on! I couldn’t follow what the guy was doing. All I knew was that the wraps were supposed to be firm around my hand but not constricting.

Once I rejoined the group, the real “fun” began. Tyler made us do 50 squats – 50!- before having us do a variety of mountain climbers, push-ups and so on. I thought my legs would fall right off!

At this point, exhaustion crept into my arms and legs and they began to shake even at the attempt of holding them up (I’m really weak y’all). That being said, I pushed through. If this was the only chance I got at being passionate about boxing, I wasn’t going to let weak arms stop me.

I learned the basic stance and punches. (Punch on one with your non-dominate hand and on two with your dominate hand.) Apparently, most boxing coaches don’t let beginners start using the bags until a few weeks of practicing the stance and basic moves. This is to learn muscle memory. I could tell some of my fellow beginners weren’t super excited at the idea of standing around and pretending to hit things, but I wanted to do this right! Maybe it wasn’t the most fun, but any piece of advice Tyler gave me, I followed.

Then, towards the end of the lesson Tyler let me hit the bag around.

I didn’t hold anything back either. I attempted to remember the proper form as I beat the bag senselessly. Sweat dripped from my forehead, and I could tell Tyler thought it was funny how exhausted I was. He does this stuff every day after all.

By the end of the night, tired could not begin to describe how I felt, but now that it’s done, I kind of want to do it again.

 

Next week’s topic: family history

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A Game of Chess – Boxing is More than You Think

With a world so full of hate, the last thing we need is to be full of hate ourselves. Well, our first guest had the hardest time with anger before picking up boxing.

Tyler is a 25 year old certified boxing coach, and he teaches up at my school. His story will change your perspective on boxing.

Tyler’s Story

In December of 2015, Tyler’s life grew rather frustrating. It seemed like the universe was out to get him. As time went on, he began acquiring a bit of an anger management issue. He would scowl at people when walking outside, he would grow angry towards his friends and family at the drop of a hat, and he had no way of dealing with it.

Tyler said, “I was pissed at the world and I needed a place to put all that anger.”

Searching through Craigslist one night, he found something very interesting. A very beaten up, ducttaped punching bag was listed at a reasonable price. As soon as possible, Tyler bought the bag and put it to work.

“I got it, hung it up and- no wraps, no skill, no nothin’- just started punching it,” he said with a grin on his face, “And holy crap, did it feel good!”

After some time bringing the bag to his local gym, Tyler began acquiring some on lookers. Most of these onlookers were professional fighters and boxing coaches who all wanted a turn on Tyler’s punching bag. He agreed to let them use it under the condition that they teach him all that they knew.

From there, Tyler started a boxing club with those same fighters, began sparing each other and quickly teaching one another the proper stances and techniques. After a while, Tyler knew he was good at boxing and wanted to teach others, which led him to becoming certified boxing coach.

And this is all in the space of a year!

Although boxing started out as a way to release anger, it’s ending up being something very different. As Tyler got better at the sport, he began predicting his competitors moves. “It’s like a game of chess,” he said. “You’re trying to get your opponent to move the way you want while trying not to get the snot beaten out of you.”

Predicting movements is a huge part of boxing. Without this skill, you’ll get knocked to the ground pretty fast. Now it will definitely take time and practice, but this is the sort of thing passionate people live for!

For Beginner Boxers

When asked if he had any advice for beginners (like me), Tyler said to find the people who know what they’re doing. If your form or technique isn’t right, you could get really hurt, which he found out the hard way.

Since most people don’t really have boxing gyms in their area, I asked if Youtubing how to box would be a reliable way to learn. Tyler immediately replied, “no.”

He continued by saying that you could Youtube how to box, but to really learn you have to experience it. You have to spar and train with people who also know what they’re doing.

The best way to start boxing is to find a gym where they can train you properly.

Tyler could see himself gaining more formal training in the future. He would also be open to coaching a future boxer, but it isn’t his career of choice. Apparently, there isn’t much money in boxing unless you’re a professional. I include this part because it might be something to consider when picking a passion. Unless you don’t care about money and you just want to find a hobby, then maybe this is for you.

Not to worry, though. Tyler plans on boxing in his free time and hopes to continue teaching on our school’s campus as long as he’s attending.

This Saturday, I will be attending his boxing class and gaining hands on experience (literally). Wish me luck!

 

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This Week’s Topic is Hard Hitting

We are taught from a young age not to hit each other. Fighting wouldn’t solve anything, we were told. Of course, there are some people who went against the grain on that one.

Boxing is our topic for this week.

I know what you’re thinking, “I am not interested in boxing. I don’t like fighting.” (Or maybe you DO like fighting. I don’t know. I’m not a mind reader) Believe me when I say that I’m intimidated by the idea, but finding out what you love is also about reaching outside of your comfort zone.

I wanted to try boxing because I’ve never considered it before. I don’t like the idea of punching people, but I will not leave any stone unturned!

Now before we go full “Rocky” in here, let’s see where this sport came from.

A Brief History of Boxing

It is believed that the Greeks invented boxing as a tribute to the gods. Greeks thought that the gods would fist fight as they played with one another in heaven. Around 688 BC, boxing was added to the Olympics. That being said, it was not introduced to our modern day Olympics until 1904.

In the early days of boxing, it didn’t have much structure to it. Two men went into the ring in perfect condition, and they left bleeding and bruised. At the turn of the 1900th century, the vulgarity of the boxers shocked the upper class onlookers (which is kind of dumb when you think about it. They went to watch two men fist fight and were shocked by the language…).

In 1867, to help appeal to the sensitive upper class, the first set of boxing rules were produced. The Queensberry Code of Rules were invented by a man named John Gram. He was a part of the Chamber of Ameture Sports and attempted to institute the rules. At first, boxers refused to pay them any attention. Apparently, fighters thought the rules were “unmanly.”  However, as newer, younger boxers entered the ring, they began adopting the Queensberry Rules more often.

That was only the beginning of the type of boxing you see today. Nowadays, of course, the rules of boxing vary depending on the state and the weight class a person is in.

If you’d like to know more about the history behind boxing or any of the rules, I’ll put some of the resources below.

This Thursday, I’ll be talking to a certified boxing instructor about physical fitness and what it takes to be a good boxer. And then Friday, I’ll put the gloves on and give boxing a go myself.

Sources:

Fight Club America

White Collar Boxing

Fight Land

(Disclaimer: I’m an amature journalist)

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How to Not Seem like a Jerk in Front of Your Friends

We all have something we enjoy to do. If there is a new something on Netflix, you want all of your friends to watch it so you can enjoy the entertainment together. If you fall in love with something, you want everyone to know about it so that you can enjoy that thing together. Of course, we all know that one person who just goes a little too far…

You know the ones…

Oh my gosh, singing is my passion

Have I told you about my many achievements?

You should gaze upon my photography portfolio. It is the best thing you’ll ever see.

Those people, giving credit where credit is due, have found their passion. But do they have to be so annoying about it?

I have three things that will help you achieve an attainable amount of pride for your interest without going overboard.

Number One: Love what you do, but always think about others

People who love you will only care to an extent before they shut down. If you find yourself going on and on about all of your followers on Pinterest, stop.

It is human nature to think “what’s in it for me.” Even if someone loves you, if you only talk about you, they will start to love you less. As Brian Regan once said, “Beware the Me Monster”

Instead of talking about your hobbies, direct it back to your friend or family member. Ask them about their hobbies and what they’re passionate about. This way, they will feel validated and will care a little more when you mention the things you love.

Number Two:  Love what you do, but don’t gloat

Gloating, bragging, boasting (I’m literally just reading the synonyms to brag off Google), these are some of my least favorite things.

Yeah, I lift. I weigh 360 pounds all  in muscle. How much do you weigh? I could lift you.

The signature move of a douchebag.

If you have fun doing what you do, that’s awesome and I’m so happy for you. That being said, for the love of everything good and holy, don’t be the idiot who thinks they are better than everyone else just because of a skill or talent.

Recognize that you might be good at something and then leave it alone. No one likes people who think they are the center of the universe.

Number Three: Love what you do, but be humble about it

To go along with the above point, being humble is essential to having an awesome skill and people still liking you.

In my experience, some of my least favorite people are the ones that show off their skills for a cheap compliment. This is pride and it will be the death of every relationship you have.

Now, being humble doesn’t mean that you degrade yourself, it means that you’re modest. You love what you do simply because you love to do it; not because you get showered with compliments.

Do what you can to love what you do while still making people your business. If people don’t like you, you’ll be out of business.

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Passion

How do you find your passion? This is a question I’ve struggled with my entire adult life. It’s not like I could afford to attend horse riding lessons or gymnastics or even karate lessons! I did learn tap for about a year when I was in kindergarten, but I quit that. The reason? My leotard was much too itchy.

When you are passionate about something, it means you will do anything to grow in your understanding of it. It means you will practice night and day to become an expert in that field. I’ve never encountered anything I feel so strongly for, but I want to!

All of my professors ask me what I’m passionate about, and I just sit there stammering. The embarrassment is unbearable. My friends ask me if I love what I do. When I say I like it, but don’t love it, they look at me with pity. Several people have said “why are you going into that field if you’re not passionate about it?”

Which leads me here.

For the next few weeks, I hope to explore different kinds of interests. I’ll study the subject for a week, talk to someone who is passionate about it, then experiment with it myself. With this, I hope to help myself and others find what they might be interested in.

My name is Megan and this is my blog.

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